A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness

A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness

A Blueprint for the Hard Problem of Consciousness addresses the fundamental mechanism that allows physical events to transcend into subjective experiences, termed the Hard Problem of Consciousness. ...
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Final Conclusions

Pp. 180-192 (13)

Paulo J. Negro

Abstract

Consciousness cannot be directly measured. It is not physically present. It is an abstraction that emerges from the relationships between processes. Natural selection transformed structures into processes with informational value. Processes have expectations. Subjectivity is the realization of expectations built into the processes that connect a subject and the world around it. Qualia become possible when a subject realizes locally encoded information. Inferences of causal regularities in the Bayesian sampler brain originated from the structural order of living systems. The realization of awareness of location arises from the matching of maps generated by hippocampal activation. These maps give origin to omnidirectional cell assemblies that can represent abstract meaning. Actions generate concrete and abstract maps. State-dependent hidden expectations in local networks also underlie active expectations in time perception, in other subjective experiences, and mechanisms for conscious perception that trace back to the early components of the brain decision network. Interoception realization arises from the hierarchical architecture of the insula consistently with instantiation of successively higher re-representations. Interoception likely arises from a strange loop merging a represented body with a simple self in which the represented body is a building block of the self it represents. Predictive Coding lends support to a Bayesian inference of hidden causes in the environment. It is a generative model that depends on actions. Within its context, perception corresponds to the inverse mapping of the hidden causes of sensations. Ultimately, being the subject is the realization of inference inversely mapped out of hidden causes of global, integrated actions. Olfactory perception abstracts regularities from the environment into odor-objects of adaptive value through re-representation of structural maps into categories that arise from iterative neuronal assembly oscillations. Strong evidence suggests that human consciousness arises from globally distributed brain activity enabling sustained coherent oscillatory states. The existence of reentrant thalamocortical and corticothalamic oscillations supports the idea of realization of abstract information through re-reading of the strange loop ‘expectation. information’ expectation. information into ‘prediction. predictive-error’prediction. predictive-error and, ultimately, into the ‘top-down. bottom-up’top-down. bottom-up and the ‘feedback. feedforward’feedback. feedforward of cortical and thalamic loops. The ideas contained here are consistent with the empirical evidence provided by the IIT. However, this blueprint moves away from the IIT cryptic intelligent design and panpsychism. The adoption of strange loops as a core component of this blueprint is consistent with the Predictive Coding paradigm, with embodied abstractions generated at the insula, and with a multiple level self-modeling description through which lower levels provide primitives for higher-level modeling. Strange loops reconcile the local and global paradox of consciousness. These ideas are consistent with the resonance principles contained in the ART, whereby resonances supporting qualia arise from the realization of information in the strange loop ‘expectation.information’expectation.information in which ‘expectation.information’ ←→ expectation.information at higher levels of functional organization.

Keywords:

Active Expectations, Adaptive Resonance Theory, Bayesian Sampler, Computational Models, Default Mode Network, Embodied Abstractions, Effective Information, Focal Awareness, Generative Models, Global Neuronal Workspace Theory, Interoception, Integrated Information Theory, Mechanisms of Consciousness, Noncomputational Subject, Omnidirectional Cells, Phenomenal Consciousness, Predictive Coding, Problem of Records, Quantum Theories of Consciousness, Realization of Information, Self-Modeling, Sustained Oscillations.

Affiliation:

Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.